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Indiana governor to give GOP State of the Union response

By Susan Guyett

INDIANAPOLIS (Reuters) - Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, who once considered running for president in 2012, has been tapped by Republicans to deliver their response to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address next week, Congressional Republicans said on Thursday.

Republicans said Daniels had a solid record for effective government and fiscal responsibility, describing him as well-suited to deliver the response following Obama's address on January 24.

"It's an honor to be asked. I hope to do the assignment justice," said Daniels, who was elected in 2004 and reelected in 2008. He is limited to two terms by Indiana law.

Daniels could be seen as a safe and popular choice for Republicans, who are in the early stages of selecting a nominee to run against Obama in November and may not want voters to perceive them as giving preference to one candidate.

"Mitch Daniels is a fierce advocate for smaller, less costly, and more accountable government, and has the record to prove it," House Speaker John Boehner said in a statement announcing Daniels as the choice for the Republican response.

Indiana has a balanced budget, a AAA credit rating and Republicans control both sides of the state legislature and are pressing a measure to make Indiana the first right-to-work state in the industrial heartland.

"As Indiana's governor, Mitch Daniels helped improve his state's economy by fostering an environment to create jobs," Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said.

State Republicans say making Indiana a right-to-work state would help attract and create jobs, while critics see the proposals as union-busting. State Democrats have sought to delay the measure by boycotting sessions, drawing fines.

Efforts by Republicans to move such legislation could become hot-button issues in potential presidential swing states such as Ohio and Wisconsin this year.

(Editing by Paul Thomasch)

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